Beta, the second letter of the Greek alphabet, is ruling our world. In finance, beta is a measure of volatility. In technology, beta testing is getting feedback from future users. In natural selection, the beta males come second after the leaders of the pack.
But in culture, beta represents a new interplay of transparency and open innovation, says Faith Popcorn, founder and CEO of Faith Popcorn's BrainReserve. We are living in a "beta" culture that is changing everything. Economic fragility, political unrest and environmental change, coupled with unlimited access to information technology and resources, have given rise to a new class of citizens.
Faith Popcorn calls these architects of a new reality "beta-tects." They see everything - their lives, their work, their culture - as a constantly evolving, ever-adapting open-end project. And the constant change is not just an option, it is the new ideal, the consumer trend expert and best-selling author says in a blog for the Huffington Post. The beta-tects are transforming everything around them and re-inventing the world from scratch. Organizations like Betahaus, 3rd Ward and the Free Art and Technology (FAT) Lab are fostering this change and technologies like 3D printers, Raspberry Pi and the Arduino are allowing creative minds to turn their visions into reality.
The new culture is going even further: it is transforming the human species. The rise in attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has drawn a lot of controversy, but Popcorn doesn't think it is a "disorder" that modern-day young, hyperactive and hyper-connected individuals "suffer" from. This is an evolutionary advantage, she says. The rise of ADHD has put back the beta-tects into the "hunter" (versus "farmer") role, making them highly adaptive and able to see the multiple moving parts that build the whole picture.
Meanwhile the body hack (magnetic implants into our body) is pushing up the limits of human evolution, giving us super powers, a "sixth sense" and the ability to feel electromagnetic energy. To open up to this new culture, brands need to open their arms wide to beta-tects. This means a shift from rigid to "liquid" brands, to companies that are flexible, responsive and quick to move into new areas and products, to vibrate at the same high frequency as their customers. This means brands changing their success metrics to take into account sustainability, human evolution and public virtue. And companies that find ways to open up to the beta-tects will face no limit to their possibilities.